Summer of '82: Megaforce -

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  • Starring: Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck, Henry Silva and Persis Khambatta
  • Written by: Robert S. Kachler, James Whitaker, Albert S. Ruddy, Hal Needham and Andre Morgan
  • Directed by: Hal Needham
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Series:

Summer of '82: Megaforce

"The good guys always win, even in the '80s."

By Rob Vaux     June 25, 2012

 Want to know how bad Megaforce is? It was never released on DVD. In an era when every fourth-rate chunk of shit merited at least a $6.99 el cheapo disc, no one could be bothered to bring this movie into the 21st century. Its awfulness takes the breath away; its abject incompetence is the stuff of legends. We mention it here only because of a fluke in history: it shared a release date with Blade Runner and The Thing, two movies that now stand at the top of their respective pantheons. The turkey squatting amid such eagles thus draws attention by default.

And to be sure, the kids love it.  It has motorcycles that shoot missiles after all. And that freaky bald chick from the first Star Trek movie, who’s grown her hair back out for this one. As nostalgia fodder for those of a certain age, it will suffice. On the other hand, one can certainly find nostalgia fodder in a less toxic form than this.

The cheese factor forms the other part of its appeal, starting with its weirdly toothless militarism and progressing right down to the Aerobics King hairstyle of leading man Barry Bostwick. He plays the leader of an elite squad of internationally American mercenaries, armed with high-tech weapons and dedicated to the principles of kicking bad guys’ asses with silly missile-launching motorcycles. He gets a golden opportunity during a war between the fictitious countries of Sardun (peaceful) and Gamibia (evil). In the midst of various stodgy exposition scenes, Bostwick’s Ace Hunter falls for a comely Sardun officer (Persis Khambatta) while battling an old friend, General Gurerra (Henry Silva), leading the Gamibian invasion. The film maintains an actual “plot,” but views it more as a nuisance than a necessity, probably because it would detract from the scorching homoeroticism of Bostwick in his spandex unitard.

Megaforce was directed by Hal Needham, who worked as a stuntman for many years before riding Burt Reynolds’ coattails straight into to the director’s chair. Stunts remain the name of the game here… which would be fine if they didn’t involve ridiculous dune buggies and motorcycles flying around in what appears to be the high desert of California. The set pieces are performed with the misplaced energy of enthusiastic amateurs, hampered by ponderous set-ups and less-than-convincing payoffs. You won’t see miniature this cheap outside a model train store, and the bluescreen effects in the film’s finale take the breath away for all the wrong reasons.

The film also maintains a fetishistic fascination for Q-branch exposition, as various members of the team explain various gadgets in dry terms that mask their borderline orgasmic glee. Once we find out what they do, we get to see them in action, taking down a seemingly endless array of enemy tanks, soldiers and bases while making nonchalant quips to remind us that the really aren’t worried about those swarthy foreigners shooting at them. The Boys’ Own qualities grant it a certain charm, but to adult eye, the silly hardware and shoddy action sequences lose their novelty value very quickly.

Thankfully, Megaforce takes it all deadly seriously, which – as is typical in these kinds of efforts – actually makes it a comedy gold mine. (Team America and Family Guy, among others, have both used it as brilliant fodder.) Bostwick’s cringe-worthy tough guy shtick is constantly undone by his feathery hair and dated headband, while he and Khambatta generate the kind of apocalyptic non-chemistry that only third-tier actors can muster. The film’s adorable attempts to invest its living action figures with actual personality hurts on a level I can scarcely articulate. The storyline adopts a rah-rah attitude typical of Reagan’s America, though it bends over backwards to avoid any actual political stance to interrupt its bloodless good time.

They sadly underestimated the “good time” elements, resulting in a critical and commercial black hole so dark that no one wants to throw any more money into it. A few VHS copies still exist (I found mine in the cult section of a specialty video store), but you won’t find anything more sophisticated in a viewing medium. The video quality actually adds to the nostalgia, though don’t expect any warm feelings to last without copious amounts of alcohol. This turd bucket lies forgotten for a reason. Only the company it kept – and its comically dated adherence to the tropes of its era – merits mentioning it at all.


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Wiseguy 6/25/2012 9:36:24 AM

Whoa dude, I am laughing in the inside. I remember really digging this film. Yeah it was pure cheese, even for the time but going by memory only I really do feel some fondness for it. Don't know if it's because of the film or the time of my life it represents.

Yet I can't claim to be some huge fan of it since I never saw it again, but that feeling of goofy joy like a kid with a toy surfaces when I think about this film and I hadn't in like forever til just now.

Thanks Rob but man you're harsh.

I'd buy the dvd if it ever came out, just for nostalgia and a laugh

ElBaz13 6/25/2012 10:55:18 AM

Ah man...I so remember this movie. Seeing the ads at the back of comicbooks made it feel like a comicbook action movie. What a turd it was.

metalpause 6/25/2012 11:14:21 AM

 It ranks right up there with timeless clasics like Timerider, as well as Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn. 

countzenith 6/25/2012 1:00:35 PM

What I most remember of this movie is the flying motorcycle.  The horror.  The horror.

jppintar326 6/25/2012 1:10:13 PM

Never saw this movie but I can't imagine it could be any worse than Smokey and the Bandit II, Stroker Ace, and Cannonball Run II, all directed by Hal Needham.  Might be a curiosity item to see if it really is that bad. 

Wyldstaar 6/25/2012 3:29:14 PM

I always wanted to see this movie as a kid, but never had the opportunity to do so.  I thought the motorcycles with missile launchers on them from the commercials were amazing.  They were pretty much my sole reason for wanting to see the flick, actually.

tjanson 6/25/2012 3:48:46 PM

In its defense it did have a catchy theme song by a band called 707! 

Wyldstaar 6/25/2012 7:58:04 PM

There don't even appear to be any bootlegs available for this one.  I did find it on Youtube, though.  Definitly not in the right frame of mind to watch it tonight.

thezillaman 6/25/2012 9:06:54 PM

im' 100% with Wiseguy on this one . and i have it on AVI, file real good quality for an AVI, file on this movie. this makes Roger Corman's movies look like Shakespeare... no doubt this is a Guilty Pleasure flick..

Wookiebreath 6/26/2012 12:44:06 AM

I remember loving this as a kid, even though i knew it was a terrible movie. Amazon has it listed as coming out on dvd sept. 4.

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